Room To Grow: Building Career Advancement Paths For Your Employees

Room To Grow: Building Career Advancement Paths For Your Employees
Monster Ztudio/
Summary: The presence of a solid employee career development plan can make all the difference between a dead-end job and a long-term professional opportunity. In this article, you'll find 6 easy steps to build the perfect career development plan for your employees.

How To Create A Career Development Plan For Employees

In the knowledge economy, employees are your company's most important assets. Providing career development plans for employees within your organization will help you nurture, engage and retain them.

Why Are Career Paths Important?

Career development plans are important to employees. They give them workplace flexibility, engage them and inspire them to improve their skills.

But career development plans are equally important to employers. They attract talent and reduce employee churn. They encourage employee self-development and help companies discover and use their top talent. They also help increase diversity and refresh the company culture.

Build A Career Development Plan For Your Employees In 6 Easy Steps

1. Look Towards The Future

Before you start creating a career development plan for your employees, you first need to have a firm grasp of your company's development plans. Your company's short-, mid- and long-term business goals and needs should be the base of your career development plan. To come up with an effective plan, you will need to assess where you currently are and compare it to where you need to be. If, for example, you want to expand on a new market, you will need to hire, mentor and promote employees with relevant skills.

Take a good look at the skills your company lacks in or needs to grow in the future. This will help you determine how much emphasis to place on developing your existing employee pool vs. hiring and training new employees.

2. Talk To Your Leaders

The first step was all about seeing the big picture. Now, you need to get an accurate and up-to-date picture of your current workforce, and the various roles that they fill, either officially or (often) unofficially. Have a team update the organizational records to reflect on the present situation.

To get a more detailed view, you will also need to talk to your managers, department heads, and team leaders. Team leaders working directly with lower-level employees will be more aware of skill gaps than higher-level executives and should be able to come up with employee development ideas based on your actual needs.

You should come out of this step with the necessary knowledge to design your career advancement plan, including:

  • lists of available positions per department
  • hierarchical position upgrade paths
  • list of development areas for employees
  • possibilities for horizontal position transfers
  • target numbers per post for the next year or so
  • a coaching plan (including potential mentors)
  • skills gap numbers
  • budget (for hirings, promotions, training, and so on)

3. Establish A Career Advancement Process

The next step is to turn what you have learned in the previous steps into a career advancement plan. Then, you’ll turn that into a career advancement process (a more precise mechanism).

The right plan for you depends on your industry, company size, strategy, existing workforce, budget, etc. There's no one-size-fits-all template. It's up to you to come up with a plan that fits your company's goals. Whatever your employee development plan is, your career advancement process still needs to have some common characteristics:

  • It should reward results
    To decide who and when to promote, your HR team should consult employee assessments from team leaders, while also taking into account objective performance metrics (such as sales numbers, training scores, and so on). Career upgrades based on office politics will only undermine the credibility of your career advancement plan.
  • It should engage with the employee
    You should create a culture that encourages employees to discuss their career advancement goals with HR and works with them in creating a personalized career development plan. Your company should give ambitious employees the chance to prove themselves and offer them the training opportunities they need to land a higher position. You should also take seriously any employee concerns about the fairness of their performance assessments or career progress.
  • It should track top talent
    Your company's top talent will be its future leadership. Your HR department should pay particular attention to the career paths of exceptional employees, assist them with coaching and, when needed, hasten their rise through the company.
  • It should promote diversity
    Even in 2018, leadership diversity remains a massive problem in the corporate world. Your career advancement plan should help promote diversity in your company by eliminating biases and discriminatory practices.

4. … And Make Sure It Covers Alternative Advancement Routes

A career advancement path doesn't necessarily mean moving from a lower to a higher position. Many companies, for example, offer what is called "dual career ladders". In other words, a managerial and a non-managerial (or "technical") career upgrade path. For example, an employee might be an exceptional performer at their current role, but unsuited for (or unwilling to go to) a managerial role.

To give such employees a sense of advancement (and keep them in the company), you can use raises and bonuses, or provide them with an assistant to take over their less critical responsibilities. Moving an employee between different posts at the same hierarchical level is another career path that doesn't involve a promotion.

Job rotation can help when employees feel dissatisfied with their current post or existing team. It also offers a way for employees to have an overview of the company's workflows and discover their real talent and passion among the many available roles.

5. Advertise It

For a career development plan for employees to have the desired effect, both within and outside a company, it first needs to be known.

Give employees a breakdown of your overall advancement plan, so that they feel more motivated to work towards it. Offer examples based on your employee career development plan that cover typical promotion scenarios to help your staff understand the available opportunities.

The presence of career advancement opportunities is also a significant factor in attracting talent to work for you. Advertising your career development plan outside the company is a good idea. Mention it in job postings and promotional materials, describe it in blog posts and recruitment offers, and cover it in your pre-employment training – and on any other chance that you get.

6. Invest In Training

To promote someone as part of your plan, they would need the right mix of experience and skills. Experience will come naturally in time, which is why seniority is important. Skills, however, need active development, and it's up to the employer to organize training courses and other related employee development activities.

You should consider your employee training program as an essential part of your career advancement opportunities. From onboarding training to general skills training and certifications, your training program will help you identify the top performers, as well as those most suitable for different roles and responsibilities. A lifelong training program, combined with a selection of courses, will also encourage employees to study and gain new skills. Of course, your managers and HR people should be keeping an eye on, and rewarding, such efforts.

eLearning, especially with a web- and mobile-friendly platform like TalentLMS, is especially suited for such use cases. It allows employees to study at their own pace (and, in the case of a mobile LMS, from wherever they are). It's also less costly to offer on-demand, all-year-round learning opportunities.

If your LMS supports Instructor-Led Training, you can also use it as a mentorship platform, where senior employees and company leaders mentor new employees through webinars, traditional lectures, and teleconference sessions. Even better? An LMS will not only help you identify and fix skill gaps, but also give you ongoing insight on your learners' progress and on who your top performers are.


A solid career advancement plan will help your company attract and retain top talent, develop its future leadership, and strategically pursue its business goals.

In this quest, a modern corporate LMS, like TalentLMS, will help you give your employees the skills they need to march forward in their career.

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Easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to like, TalentLMS is designed to get a “yes” from everyone, including C-level execs, budget heads, and busy employees. Now, instead of checking out, your whole organization leans into training.